New Zealand backs Australia in trade dispute with China ahead of Ardern-Morrison meeting

By on May 30, 2021 0

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hold a joint press conference at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia on February 28, 2020. REUTERS / Loren Elliott

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrived in New Zealand on Sunday for high-level talks hours after the country’s government chose to back Canberra in its dispute with China over barley tariffs, signaling its goodwill to work on the differences in the approach to Beijing.

Quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand began last month after the two countries controlled the spread of COVID-19, allowing Morrison and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to meet for the first time in 15 months.

The talks risked being challenged by differences over China, the two countries’ biggest trading partner, with Australia at odds, with Beijing and New Zealand taking a more accommodating approach.

China has decided in recent months to restrict imports of Australian products such as barley, wine and beef, and the World Trade Organization said on Friday it would create a dispute settlement panel to resolve the issue. barley.

Ahead of Morrison’s visit, New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O’Connor said his government was supporting Canberra in the conflict.

“New Zealand is participating in this dispute as a third party because it raises systemic issues important to the effective functioning of the rules-based multilateral trading system,” O’Connor told local media.

“New Zealand has not been invited to join as a third party, but we have been a third party in over 60 WTO cases since 1995 and it is not uncommon for us to join litigation when we see challenges to international trade rules. “

Australia’s relations with China have fallen to their lowest point in decades in the past 18 months after Morrison called for a global investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and Australia Bans Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (HWT.UL) from its 5G network.

New Zealand’s economic ties with China have grown stronger, with the two countries improving their free trade agreement this year.

New Zealand also said last month it was “uncomfortable” to expand the role of the Five Eyes, a post-war intelligence group that also includes the United States, the Great Brittany, Australia and Canada. This has raised speculation that Wellington did not support the group’s recent criticism of Beijing. Read more

China has accused the Five Eyes of ganging up on it with statements about Hong Kong and the treatment of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Formal talks between Ardern and Morrison, which are expected to be dominated by China and its growing influence in the region, are due to take place on Monday.

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